5 Facts About The Sequester Everyone With Lungs Should Know

American Lung Association Due to Buget Cuts Break Glass Cartoon

The EPA along with state and local air pollution agencies form the essential national infrastructure that monitors and cleans our air and protects the health of our communities. However, ever-tightening budgets jeopardize their work. Preventing additional cuts will enable them to effectively monitor air quality, implement critical air quality programs to protect public health, and meet national clean air goals.

Did you know?

1.  According to an association of clean air agencies more than $100 million in budget cuts to EPA’s Air program are proposed. EPA’s budget for enforcement would also be cut by an additional $64.5 million and with less cops on the beat we be assured of more bad air quality days.

2.  But this is just Washington’s problem, right? Wrong. Twenty percent of the cuts would be to the funds provided to states and local governments who monitor air pollution levels and administer permits for industrial facilities among other key aspects.

3.  The EPA says the required budget cuts would likely:

  • Force the shutdown of some critical air monitoring sites across the country; and,
  • Significantly reduce essential air quality data systems critical to alerting those with respiratory and cardiac health issues about health impacts from air pollution.

4.  In 2010 alone, the reductions in fine particle and ozone pollution that were the result of 1990 Clean Air Act amendments prevented more than 160,000 premature deaths; 130,000 heart attacks; 13 million lost work days; and 1.7 million asthma attacks. What could our future look like without the cuts?

Under normal implementation and enforcement of the Clean Air Act, by 2020, the EPA projects preventing more than 230,000 cases of premature mortality, 200,000 heart attacks, 17 million lost work days, and, 2.4 million asthma attacks. The health benefits are expected to exceed $2 trillion while the costs will be $85 billion. Don’t these savings make more sense?

5.  If these cuts are made the inevitable results will be delayed enforcement, fewer inspections of polluting facilities and a serious hit to the public’s right to know about levels of pollution in the air. We don’t want to lose the right to breathe easy.

Big Polluters might enjoy having fewer cops on the beat, but those who get sick and those that might die prematurely because air quality is not improving or being sufficiently monitored deserve better. The Clean Air Act promises healthy air for all to breathe. Fights over tax rates and deficit reduction should not have us reaching for a gas mask as a means of getting cleaner air. Let Congress know so we can all breathe easy.

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